This was a text I got from my insightful and decidedly heterosexual sister a few weeks ago. It made me laugh! I’ve had the same thought and I’ve held it with some curiosity. This is not a coming out post! Still firmly hetero (for any available intensely awesome male partners anyone might know).
Here’s my best explanation. Heterosexual women typically have two lenses through which to view their femininity. The first lens is the way men define it. It’s doing and being the things men expect and prefer women to be. The things men have been telling women that they are for centuries. The second is a kind of rejection of that. It’s abandoning femininity altogether and attempting to become male.
I think I’ve been trying to navigate some line between these two. I think that’s how most of us deal with this. But what I have learned from my same-sex-attracted female counterparts is that there is a third option. I suspect that somehow this becomes more available to them as they give up (or never begin in the first place) romantic entanglements with men. They begin to operate on a new template—not what was demonstrated to them by their mother or in a fairy tale or in an abusive childhood or any other iteration of the male/female experience. They find and live their own definition of femininity. And this rejection of the template is incredibly freeing.
It includes children for many because women seem to bear children and, for better or worse, God gives us that power way before we are ready to wield it. It includes contribution to the world, in the form of work and art, because women are inherently creative beings and the restriction to domestic life, for many, spells insanity.
Watching these women, has made me realize that much of my life has been an apology for my femininity and that has to stop.
I’m watching my surf-sister, Clare, from the beach right now. She is shredding. She is freaking amazing. I can pick her out in the distance by the way she surfs. She has a quality that is decidedly feminine. And in a few minutes she will go home and be a kind and loving and fierce wife and mother. Can we celebrate that? Isn’t that enough? Aren’t we enough?
Listen to lesbians. They are speaking truth.
Note: All of the art in this post is on display at the National Museum of Women in the Arts,the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts.